Written for Property Poser

This week our Property Poser reader’s letter deals with the management and conduct rules in a sectional title complex.

He understands that, while these rules are absolutely necessary, prospective buyers do not always know what they are getting themselves into when buying in a complex.

As a trustee of the body corporate in charge of the complex where he resides, he has devised a way to ensure that all parties concerned in the sale process are fully aware of the complex-related rules and facts.

In his view, the seller and estate agent are both responsible for informing a prospective buyer of the set of rules applicable to a complex.

He feels, however, that if the new owner only receives a copy of the rules from the transferring attorney, he or she may be in for a bit of a surprise at this late stage.

In light of the above, the reader and his fellow trustees have determined that the estate agent representing the seller should obtain a copy of the relevant conduct rules from the managing agent of the complex.

These rules can then be made available to the potential buyer for inspection and consideration even before signing an offer to purchase.

It is important for the rules to be presented to a prospective buyer as they generally regulate both conduct and obligations, says Rian du Toit from DTS Attorneys in Port Elizabeth.

“Conduct rules not only regulate the behaviour of owners and occupiers with regard to the scheme’s common property, but also their behaviour within their respective sections.”

Du Toit says the rules are not only applicable to the owner of a unit, but also to tenants and even their guests.

“A standard set of rules can be found in the annexure to the Sectional Title Act, but it is possible to amend these.”

The conduct rules deal with issues ranging from the keeping of animals, refuse disposal, vehicles, signs and notices to letting of units and alterations to the common property, says Du Toit.

When a prospective buyer is thinking about investing in a sectional title complex he or she should consider a number of factors, says Charlotte Vermaak from Chas Everitt in PE.

“Some of the questions that should be asked include what exactly the unit will comprise and what the monthly levy will be.”

According to Vermaak, the buyer should also inspect the financial statements of the scheme, check its insurance policy and examine the management and conduct rules applicable.

“It is clear therefore that a substantial burden rests on the prospective buyer to make sure that he or she knows exactly what lies in store.”

It is commendable that our reader and the other trustees have taken certain steps to ensure that the new owners are fully aware of the conduct rules, says Vermaak.

“However, the responsibility does not lie squarely on their shoulders. The ‘buyer beware’ principle is equally applicable.”

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